On the 23rd of June 2016, Yorkshire Water opened its doors to female pupils harbouring ambitions of possibly pursuing careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, hosting free education sessions. The 23rd of June was significant because that’s when the third annual Women in Engineering Day was taking place. The company hosted no less than ten sessions at its Headingley Water Treatment Works in Leeds as a means through which to try and boost the numbers of skilled female engineers working in the water sector.
By the time the week ended, no less than 265 6th- and 7th-year female students had learnt about the exciting career paths in those fields directly from Yorkshire Water’s female employees. The sessions were very interactive, giving pupils the platform to pose some questions to Yorkshire Water’s female employees about their experiences, including graduates and apprentices who work in operational roles.
As an added bonus, all the pupils were afforded the opportunity to go on the very popular tour of Headingley Water Treatment Works, during which they learned how water is cleaned and how Yorkshire Water consistently supplies its customers with a constant supply of fresh drinking water.
Shilpi Arora, Talent Adviser at Yorkshire Water and who organised the sessions said, “We want to inspire female students in primary school and year 7 of upper school to consider careers in engineering, science, technology and maths. We really hope that these sessions will encourage female students to consider these roles when they are beginning high school and when they choose their optional subjects a few years down the line.”
It became quite clear very early on that the sessions would evolve into a success, with a couple of early-adopter students commenting positively.
Holly Swann from Allerton High School said, “It was really fun finding out about what is used to treat the water and especially how it is filtered. A lot of jobs would make you think it is just about water and for males but the sessions have made me see the different aspects like IT. In the future I would consider a career in this discipline.”
Alina Ali from the Featherstone Academy commented, “It was quite encouraging because it wasn’t just to do with water but is about technology, computers and engineering. There are lots of opportunities for girls and I will definitely be thinking about a career in this field.”
Scenes from the event depict students listening in on a short opening presentation which gives a background of Yorkshire Water and covers the careers which are available. Further scenes emerging from within the Headingley Water Treatment Works show students being taken through the water treatment process involved. They watched the clarification stage, during which chemicals which act like a magnet for dirt and bacteria were added, after which addition these form a jelly-like substance called floc. As part of this clarification phase, air bubbles are worked into the tank, making the floc float to the surface, where it then finally gets easily scraped off.